Google said to eye former Clinton aide for top policy job
San Francisco/Washington: Alphabet Inc.’s Google has reached out to Jake Sullivan, a former deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton at the state department, in its search for a new head of international policy, according to people familiar with the matter.
Sullivan is one of more than a dozen contenders and the discussions may not result in a job offer, one of the people said. Google’s search comes as the tech giant and its peers wrestle with the best strategies to deal with regulatory threats in Europe, a Republican-controlled Congress and a White House that’s suspicious of the industry’s rising power.
As Google reshuffles its government affairs shop, a Sullivan hire would put someone with close ties to President Donald Trump’s former arch-rival in the top policy job as big tech companies come under greater scrutiny in Washington—in particular over the role Russia played on social media platforms in the 2016 presidential election.
Sullivan was a senior policy adviser to Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and a former national security adviser to vice president Joe Biden. Sullivan’s global experience could be especially valuable to Google as the internet giant tackles increasing scrutiny outside the US.
A spokesman from Google declined to comment. Sullivan also declined to comment.
Mountain View post
Google is seeking a replacement for Caroline Atkinson, a former deputy national security adviser to president Barack Obama, who stepped aside from the job in September. Leslie Miller, a Google policy director based in California, is filling in on an interim basis. The reshuffle is designed to place oversight of the policy role at its Mountain View, California, headquarters, where Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, is based, a person familiar with the company said.
Although Google has deep personal ties to Democrats—with many alums cycling through the Obama White House—its current policy team has several GOP operatives. Susan Molinari, a former Republican Congresswoman, has led Google’s US government relations office since 2012. After the 2016 election, Google also added Max Pappas, a former staffer to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, as the company’s ambassador to right-leaning groups in Washington.
Sullivan was among top Clinton advisers who knew about her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State. In July 2016, then-FBI director James Comey announced that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in handling classified material but that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue charges in the case. It’s a judgment that still sparks impassioned partisan debate and criticism from President Trump.
Sullivan played a key role in international diplomacy under Obama. He was secretly dispatched in 2012 to begin the negotiations that resulted in the Iran nuclear deal, ending a decades-long embargo on that country. At Google, he would walk into a thicket of policy issues, many of them on the international stage. In Europe, Google is facing a trio of antitrust cases, one of which has already resulted in a record fine, and mounting regulatory scrutiny involving privacy and data collection.
In Washington, Google seems to have a more adversarial relationship with the Trump administration after enjoying a close relationship with the Obama White House, including supplying the executive branch with high-level talent.
Google executives have spoken out against Trump’s policies on immigration and climate change. Former White House adviser Steve Bannon was said to favour heavy regulation of the company, although the Trump administration hasn’t shown signs so far of heeding calls to bolster antitrust enforcement against Google or other major technology companies. Trump has often voiced his antipathy for Hillary Clinton and Obama.
In Congress, Google has faced fresh criticism from both sides of the aisle during hearings on Russia’s use of its platforms, especially YouTube, to try to influence the 2016 presidential election. During a November hearing, top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee heaped scorn on Google’s Walker, alongside lawyers for Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., for the companies’ purportedly slow response to the Russia threat. Google came under fire again this month for criticism during a hearing into extremist content online.
Google’s search to fill the top policy job comes after Eric Schmidt, Google’s onetime chief executive officer, said in December he was stepping down as Alphabet chairman. The prolific Democratic donor who advised Clinton on campaign structure and set up a company that provided data services to her campaign, had for years served as its de facto political fixer on the toughest domestic and international affairs.
A Rhodes Scholar and a 2003 graduate of Yale Law School who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Sullivan, is a native of Minnesota. He also served as deputy policy director to Clinton’s primary 2008 campaign. Bloomberg
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